Major powerhouses like the USA and Jamaica may have opted out of the 2021 World Athletics Relays but there will still be a lot of exciting action on offer when the event gets underway in Silesia, Poland, on May 1. With less than 100 days left for the Tokyo Olympics, the competition also gives many teams a platform to earn automatic qualifying spots for the big-ticket event.
In the absence of USA and Jamaica, hosts Poland, Great Britain and the Netherlands will be headlining the action at the World Athletics Relays.
Zoey Clark, Emily Diamond, Yasmin Liverpool, Jessie Knight, Laviai Nielsen, Ama Pipi and Jessica Turner constitute Great Britain women’s 4x400m team. They will face stiff challenges from Poland and the Netherlands.
The Dutch side includes the likes of Lieke Klaver, Marit Dopheide, Lisanne de Witte and Femke Bol – the same team that won European Indoor Championships gold. In the men’s 4x400m, fans will witness some exciting competition among Poland, Belgium, Great Britain and Canada.
All eyes will be on Dutch Daphne Schippers
Daphne Schippers will lead the Netherlands’ charge in the women’s 4x100m, which also includes Jamile Samuel and hurdles star Nadine Visser. Nigerian Blessing Okagbare, the winner of 100m gold at the Continental Tour in Eugene last weekend, is another athlete to look out for.
Brazil, South Africa and Italy will vie for the gold in the men’s 4x100m event. While the in-form Akani Simbine will run for South Africa, Italy have European indoor 60m champion Marcell Jacobs and Filippo Tortu in their ranks.
World Athletics Relays will have mixed team format
The World Athletics Relays will also see a mixed relay format, with the event making its debut at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
In the mixed relay format, a team consists of two men and two women. A team has its own right to choose the order of the runners, bringing in some interesting tactics to the fore.
Meanwhile, India were forced to withdraw from this tournament at the eleventh hour due to the COVID travel ban. The top eight teams in the World Athletics Relays will secure Tokyo Olympic berths directly.